Sunday can’t possibly be the first anniversary of my father’s death. It’s gone so fast and time has also crawled. I truly thought I understood what it must be like to lose a parent but I didn’t – I couldn’t – until I lost my own Dad. But over the last year, my overriding emotion – even more than the stinging sadness that comes and goes – has been gratitude. I find that I want to cry at the most inappropriate times, not when I’m alone and could sob all I want. But I remember how many friends’ fathers died when they were young. Or they grew up not even knowing him. I was fortunate to know my Dad pretty well and to have him in my life as long as I did.
I recently found a bunch of letters he had written to me when I lived out west. In them, he revealed his thoughts and wishes and I realize now that I didn’t understand that weight of his words at the time. I was 21 and all wrapped up in the business of me. He was revealing his personality to me, adult to adult, and it didn’t resonate that I can recall. Ah, the arrogance of youth. There’s no sense regretting it, though. That’s how life works. He knew how much I loved him and I knew that he loved me. After he became ill with Parkinson’s disease, he took stock of what mattered and didn’t hold back on his feelings. I’m grateful for that, too. Looking back, I can see how hard he tried to hide what was happening to his mind as his body failed him. He did that so we wouldn’t worry. I miss him like crazy and I suppose I always will. But I can close my eyes hear his voice whenever I choose. And he’s always telling me to go for it, whatever “it” is, and that I’m capable of doing anything. That’s a pretty damn good legacy to leave for your kid.